5.01.2008

Bus reviews: DC2NY and Bolt Bus

I took DC2NY from Manhattan to Washington, DC and I took Bolt Bus from Washington, DC to Manhattan for the first days of chag. Here is my review of the experience.

Qualifications: I am a veteran bus-taker. That's what happens when you have no car and no money and friends up and down the Northeast corridor! I have previous experience (since 2003-ish) taking Vamoose ("More Bang for Your Buck - No Bull" tee hee!), Washington Deluxe, and Greyhound on this route, and experience taking Greyhound, Peter Pan, and Fung Wah between Boston and Manhattan (since 1996).

General Observations about the DC-NY bus options:
  • Greyhound has the most travel times and a convenient departure location from New York.
  • Greyhound is currently comparable in price to these other companies, at $38 for a round-trip ticket or $22 for a one-way ticket.1
  • DC2NY only makes trip twice a day, I think--once at 9-something am and once at 4:30 pm. Bolt Bus seemed to have departures every two hours or so during the day. Greyhound has buses every hour or half hour.
DC2NY was, overall, a more pleasant ride (nicer driver, free water, less nauseated). The only downsides to DC2NY, besides the paucity of daily trips, is the leg room, and the fact that I might not get two seats on future DC2NY bus trips.

I really didn't like the nausea-inducing decals on the windows of the Bolt Bus, but on the plus side, the bus was emptier, which was nice, and the WiFi worked on my Palm, which means that I can be online even without dragging out my computer. However, if those decals make me nauseous, I can't be online anyway. (It's as bad as, or worse than, trying to read on the bus.)

The upshot is that I think, in the future, I would decide between Bolt Bus and DC2NY on a per-trip basis, based on the price and timing options of individual trips and on whether I want to be online (and how thirsty I think I'll be). Greyhound only as a last resort!

The full scoop is below.


Greyhound DC2NY Bolt Bus
location in NYC Port Authority Bus terminal (42nd St. and 8th Ave.) 34th between 8th and 7th Ave.s (across the street from K-Mart) 34th and 7th Ave. (across the street from Sbarro)
location in DC Greyhound bus station (annoying walk to the nearest Metro station at Union Station) Dupont Circle 11th and G, right near the Metro Center Metro stop
price range between NY and DC
always $22 one way or $38 round trip using their e-fares2
I think you can pay $5 extra and get "priority boarding," which means that you get to pick a window seat or a seat near the front of the bus if you want to.
always $22 one way or $40 round trip
varies from $10 to $20 per one-way ticket; no discount for round-trip purchase
travel time probably comparable; I don't remember; I think it can take up to 6 hours if it's a weekend or especially a holiday weekend
4.5 hours (middle of the day, weekday, not holiday weekend)
4.5 hours (middle of the day, weekday, not holiday weekend)
amenities none free bottle of water upon boarding the bus! what luxury!
none
trash one at the front if you're lucky one near each seat one at the back of the bus
electric outlets none didn't see them, but think they have them conveniently located on the back of each seat, but I noticed that the seats vibrated when the bus was in motion and I'm guessing that those of you with those boxy Apple power sources might need to bring your extra cord along, since it would probably fall right out
Wi-Fi none yes, password-protected, didn't try it yes, not password-protected so it worked on my Wifi-enabled Palm TX! woo hoo!
number of seats I've gotten
usually one
two! and got a window seat near the front! however, some people definitely only had one seat, so this may not be true on future rides
two! and got a window seat in the first half of the bus! tons of empty seats throughout the bus; I think there were even entirely free two-seat units.
movies
sometimes
passengers vote if they want a movie, and which of two movies they want, during the second half of the trip only -- this felt very nice and democratic even though the movie I didn't want to see ended up winning by one vote
none
nausea considerations
sometimes they smell funny, which makes me feel sick; also, with fewer seats to choose from, you can end up stuck near the back (bathroom stink, gross) or in an otherwise nausea-inducing seat
smooth ride, was even able to read a little (with the help of Dramamine) and got a great nap!
smelled like a new bus (bad for motion sickness) and the windows near the front of the bus had those decals that made it hard to look out and definitely made me feel sicker
leg room
varies
the seat that I got (because I wanted one near the front of the bus) felt very cramped
the seats were spacious and I had plenty of leg room (I'm 5'8" with a lot of that height in my legs)
cup holders
none
on the back of every seat! you can put your water bottle right there and have it handy! also, there was a hook on the back of every seat, which was also handy
none
foot rests
sometimes? I don't remember. I think usually not.
yes - makes bus travel more comfortable!
yes - makes bus travel more comfortable!
driver
often seem surly and rude
very sweet, pleasant, had mediocre English skills for which he apologized (how novel!), asked people not to speak on cell phones
didn't say much, a little surly when he did say something, didn't ask people to avoid cell phone calls so there were people yapping the whole time


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1. As an aside, in 1996 and 1997, after Greyhound bought out Peter Pan, or at least bought out their Boston-NYC routes, their prices went way up. I think at one point they were charging as much as $40 for a Boston to NYC bus ride! One way! The cheapest I ever remember Greyhound or Peter Pan being was $25 one way. The cheapest I ever remember Fung Wah being was $10 one way. I think it was on one of those $10 Fung Wah bus rides that the side view mirror of the bus fell off. We had to stop (it's illegal for a bus to drive without one) and wait by the side of the highway until the next Fung Wah bus came by an hour later, which all of the passengers from my bus fit onto, luckily. Those were the days!
2. If you don't know to click through there, you can pay up to $62 for a one-way ticket! You'll be at least paying $29 for a one way ride without the e-fare, whereas with it, it's $38 round trip.

5 comments:

Esther Kustanowitz said...

This is an OUTSTANDING comparison. What a public service! I'll tell everyone about this...

Abacaxi Mamao said...

Thanks, Esther!

Anonymous said...

Yes, this is an excellent breakdown. Brilliant.

M said...

Another Bolt Bus Review. Between both of these reviews I am definitely confident in my choice for BoltBus. I will let you guys know how it goes!

Xtreme English said...

great review. i remember the happy days when the peter pan express to NYC & back cost like $37 rt. and PP always had nicer, friendlier, BETTER drivers. now I buy one way most of the time so i can sneak home on the next available anything at most times.